Mission Bay is surrounded by the coastal suburbs of Pacific Beach, North Mission Beach, South Mission Beach and Bay Park. Locals living at the beach make full use of the beautiful beaches and bays to watch an incredible sunset or simply to ride their bikes along the boardwalk. These coastal neighborhoods are also home to many fine restaurants.
Mission Bay Park, a 4,600-acre aquatic wonderland with attractions galore. The park includes 27 miles of the sparkling ocean and bayfront beaches that attract boating and volleyball enthusiasts, water-skiers, sunbathers and people watchers. Plus, there are literally miles of beautifully landscaped parks on the bay with playgrounds and picnic areas for family outings.
Mission Bay is also home to SeaWorld. No trip to San Diego would be complete without seeing SeaWorld® San Diego. It is set on 190 beautifully landscaped acres along the sparkling shores of Mission Bay Park. As you might expect, SeaWorld has something to offer everyone. This fun-filled marine park features thousands of fascinating ocean creatures including penguins, sharks and colorful fish. Plus, they have polar bears, beluga whales and walruses at Wild Arctic®.
SeaWorld is open year-round and hours vary based on the season. Admission is ($91.99) for 10 years and older; ($86.99) for ages 3 to 9; children under 2 are free. General parking is ($25). For more information call (619-222-4732) or visit [seaworldsandiego.com]. Credit cards: AE, DISC, MC, VISA.
Oddly, they only offer a Sea World map at the entrance. If you don’t receive one at the entrance then you must use your cell phone instead which is a HORRIBLE alternative. Equally challanging is the park hours are basically a day time experience, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. depending on the time of the year. So, if you plan to be there all day, dress accordingly and bring a jacket. Sea World isn’t known for great dining. So expect to enjoy over priced fast food. Thus, when you leave Sea World, you will want to find a reasonably priced family dining spot.
A local favorite for hungry families and is not overrated is Great Plaza Buffet (22) at 1840 Garnet Ave. (858-273-6868). See map below. It’s only 5-10 minutes from Sea World via Ingram Street taking a right at Garnet Avenue. It’s in the shopping center at the corner of Lamont Street and Garnet Avenue. This excellent buffet is home to the best tasting American, Chinese and Japanese cuisine in the city. Feaured are over 158 delicious entrees and thes best part is that this is an all-you-can- eat dining estravanga. But wait, it gets even better. Seniors get 10% off everydayand if it’s your birthday and you bring at least 6 people with you YOU GET A FREE MEAL . LESS THAN 6 PEOPLE IT’S HALF PRICE ON YOUR BIRTHDAY. See their review in the restaurant chapter.
The number in the text next to a restaurant or a store correspond to their location on the map, at the bottom of the page, showing their location for easy access.
MISSION BAY’S QUIVIRA BASIN
One of Mission Bay’s most picturesque areas is Quivira Basin (12). Once a small boating pier, it has grown into a beautiful resort area that is perfect for daytime activities. You’ll find boat brokerage firms, beautiful marinas, restaurants and a luxurious Hyatt Hotel.
A romantic no frills waterfront restaurant where you can enjoy delicious freshly-caught seafood at dirt cheap prices with a glass of wine and your sweetheart is Sportsmen’s Seafood Restaurant (12) at 1617 Quivira Rd. (619-224-3551). It’s right at the water’s edge and offers a panoramic bay front view of fishing boats and yachts docked at the landings. Yet, Sportsmen’s Seafood Restaurant, which is celebrating 60 years of business is a lot more than just a restaurant, they also have a fish market and specialize in selling fish jerky worldwide. See Restaurants.
Mission Bay’s thriving residential areas lie to the west and north of Mission Bay, forming three separate communities. They are Pacific Beach to the north, North Mission Beach and South Mission Beach. North Mission Beach and South Mission Beach are separated by West Mission Bay Drive (see map). Each community has its own unique characteristics.
South Mission Beach
South Mission Beach consists of a one-mile stretch of white sandy beach on both the ocean and the bay. During the summer, it’s one of the liveliest spots in the city. The residents are mainly college students, school teachers and professionals.
Also popular is the Beachcomber (10), which is famous for being a perfect watering hole after a day at the beach.
The northern boundary between South Mission Beach and North Mission Beach is The WaveHouse Beach Club (9), an adult oriented attraction offering alcoholic beverages and lite fare at Belmont Park (9) [www.BelmontPark.com] at 3146 Mission Blvd. (858-228-9283). For beach gear, it’s Beach Rentals at Belmont Park (9) (858-488-9070). This is an oceanfront family amusement park. Its main attractions are the rip-roaring Giant Dipper Roller Coaster tons of amusement park rides and cool restaurants like Draft and The WaveHouse, a man-made wave ridden by surfboarders.
North Mission Beach
North of Belmont Park is North Mission Beach. Like South Mission Beach, it consists of a wide assortment of beach and bayfront houses, condominiums and apartments clustered between walkways and one-way alleys. Plus, it has delightful little shops and a great landmark restaurant.
All of the action in North Mission Beach is centralized near the Santa Clara Point traffic signal and northward for two blocks. Here is where locals and visitors congregate to frequent awesome local restaurants, buy or rent beach gear, purchase their swimwear and get a coffee buzz at the local coffee shop.
Once you are settled in, you’ll start thinking like a local and will want to get yourself a beach bike to ride or get some surfing lessons and ride the waves. Life at the beach doesn’t get any better than this!
To meet the demand for the best beach bikes, boards, SUPs (stand up paddleboards), back rests and more head for Cheap Rentals (7) at 3689 Mission Blvd. at Santa Clara Place (1-858-488-9070). Being a cutting edge company carrying the latest gear. So for surfeboards, boogie boards, kayaks, stand up paddleboards, wetsuits and more, head for Cheap Rentals. If you’re in the military they offer a 20 percent discount with a military I.D.
Here too. is a landmark restaurant called Saska’s Restaurant (8) TEMPORARILY CLOSED at 3768 Mission Blvd. (858-488-7311). This family-owned restaurant has been a local favorite since 1951. Fresh local seafood selections are offered daily along with delicious daily specials.
Just across Mission Boulevard is The Mission Restaurant (7) at 3795 Mission Blvd. (858-488-9060). Breakfast is their specialty and you won’t find a better breakfast anywhere. They also have locations in North Park and East Village. See Restaurants.
PACIFIC BEACH DINING & SHOPPING
To the north of Mission Beach lies Pacific Beach, which is the largest of the communities encompassing Mission Bay. In fact, most of Mission Bay’s 47,505 residents live in the thriving residential areas of Pacific Beach. This coastal community combines the relaxed, casual lifestyle of a Southern California beach town but also has all the advantages of city life, including easy freeway access and fine local dining. For more information on living in Pacific Beach visit Discover Pacific Beach (23) at 1503 Garnet Ave., (858-273-3303) [pacificbeach.org].
A local favorite that can’t be overrated is Great Plaza Buffet (22) at 1840 Garnet Ave. (858-273-6868). This excellent buffet is home to the best tasting American, Chinese and Japanese cuisine in the city. Feaured are over 158 delicious entrees and thes best part is that this is an all-you-can- eat dining estravanga. But wait, it gets even better. Seniors get 10% off everydayand if it’s your birthday and you bring at least 6 people with you YOU GET A FREE MEAL . LESS THAN 6 PEOPLE IT’S HALF PRICE ON YOUR BIRTHDAY. See thier review in the restaurant chapter.
You’ll also be delighted with your discovery of Garnet Vintage Home Collections at 1341 Garnet Ave. (858-270-1810). They focus on functional vintage furniture and kitchen accessories vs. tired old antiques.
Down Garnet a bit farther towards the Ocean is Pangaea Outpost at 909 Garnet Ave. (858-581-0555). It’s an eclectic coop located at the corner of Garnet Avenue and Bayard Street. One great discovery is The Levy Trading Company featuring hand made treasures from around the world. The owner personally visits each city and country and hand picks each item sold in her fascinating store. Now that’s real customer service! She and her husband travel to remote villages to find exquisite handmade clothing, bags, jewelry, home decor, folk-art, wood carvings, ceramics, toys and dolls. Ask them what an upcoming buying trip might be. So if there is some treasure you’d like to have, just let them know and they’ll get it for you.
PACIFIC BEACH HAS THE BEST NIGHTLIFE
The main north-south thoroughfare in Pacific Beach is Mission Boulevard. Along this major thoroughfare, you’ll find memorable restaurants, casual beach bars, grocery stores, real estate offices and lots of beach town shops.
At night Pacific Beach becomes the beach area’s best nightlife scene. Locals, college students and young professionals (between 21 and 27 years) make up most of the crowd who come here on Friday and Saturday nights to party, primarily along Garnet Avenue. If you don’t have a designated driver, be sure to take a cab. A cab company with a fleet of cars is Yellow Radio Service (619-444-4444) or use the Uber or Lyft app.